Want to learn Chinese? Hang out ‘on the Corner’

By Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Using a concept that originated in China, where people would gather in park corners or on street corners to practice their English, the Seattle Chinese Garden on the north side of the South Seattle Community College campus is hosting a series of “corner” gatherings to teach Chinese language and culture.

The first one is tomorrow.

According to Julia Freimund, program director of the Seattle Chinese Garden, this series is a collaboration between the garden, Chinese Language Teachers of Washington, The Confucius Institute of Washington and Chief Sealth International High School. Instructors from each organization (Freimund, Chunman Gissing, Donna Tang, in photo at right, and Pollyanna Wang, who took the photo) have been creating a curriculum meant to teach Chinese culture and language in a fun, hands-on way.

(Courtyard photo by Liz Hattemer)
Each session will include an instructor, Chinese speakers, and students from Sealth who are currently studying Chinese. The students will be earning community-service hours that are required for graduation.

“All these organizations collaborated to share their mission to promote and increase the understanding of Chinese language and culture,” says Freimund.

Sessions will start very basically, learning words such as “hello” and “goodbye” and as they progress, sessions will incorporate trivia games to learn food names, and Mahjong to learn directional names. Chinese calligraphy will also be introduced, showing students how to use the brushes to make strokes.

“Each session will start out with a half-hour overview of the cultural focus and the words before breaking into the small groups.” Freimund adds, “People are far more willing to try to speak a new language in small groups.”

The class is geared toward adults and teens, but tweens and kids who are interested in learning Chinese with others are also welcome.

Julia Freimund adds: “This will be fun and relaxed — no pressure. We’ll play Go Fish in Chinese. (Participants) will learn the words, but still have fun.”

The series is free, though donations are welcome. Enrollment is limited so pre-registration is required. Click here to see the flyer and register for classes.

Classes will be held every other Thursday from 4-6 pm, starting tomorrow (February 16) and ending May 24th. Because the classes build on each other, Freimund recommends taking all the classes rather than dropping in on just one or two.

The “Chinese Corner” will be held in the Chan Education Center at the Seattle Chinese Garden, located by the north parking lot at SSCC. There will be signage to direct participants to their “Corner.”

11 Replies to "Want to learn Chinese? Hang out 'on the Corner'"

  • Mickey Clements February 15, 2012 (3:38 pm)

    The times are not good for working people such as me- It would be interesting to meet on a Saturday morning. Maybe for furture planning.
    Thank you-Mickey

  • datamuse February 15, 2012 (4:22 pm)

    This looks like a really great and fun opportunity! I’m currently taking Chinese through my employer and conversational opportunities help a lot.
    Unfortunately, like Mickey I can’t make this time–I don’t get home from work until 6 most days. Definitely encourage those who can to give it a try, though.

  • Admiral935 February 15, 2012 (4:38 pm)

    没有找到,错误404 !

    404 on the flyer link. haha

  • KatherineL February 15, 2012 (4:43 pm)

    Which dialect will they be teaching?

  • WSB February 15, 2012 (4:43 pm)

    Sorry, one extra character, fixed now. And sorry I can’t banter back wittily in Chinese – if it were Japanese, that I can handle (though I’d have to switch to the iPhone, where I have nihongo enabled as an alternate keyboard) … TR

  • Paul February 15, 2012 (5:08 pm)

    Sounds cool, but I’m with Katherine: Mandarin? Cantonese? Other?

  • Brian M. February 15, 2012 (5:44 pm)

    The linked flyer states that it will be Mandarin.

  • Admiral935 February 15, 2012 (5:55 pm)

    WSB I just google translated the 404 link and got them funny symbols!
    According to Wiki, Mah Jong tiles are commonly Cantonese, or Simplified Chinese, or… Whatever the case I hope they teach Dim Sum so I can order from secret special menu.

  • Jennifer February 17, 2012 (9:50 pm)

    I would love to do this in the future if they were to try a “work friendly” schedule. I’d even pay a modest fee for it.

    @Admiral935, Chinese characters are the same regardless of dialect, only the pronunciation is different. That’s why Chinese television is always captioned. Simplified means some of the strokes have been modified to make it easier to learn and write – a by product of Mao’s cultural revolution. It’s used primarily on the mainland.

  • Elizabeth February 17, 2012 (11:10 pm)

    Here’s one more vote for a time that is more friendly to those of us who work. I’d favor Thursdays from 6pm on (and maybe weekends).

  • Julia March 1, 2012 (1:24 pm)

    The first Chinese Corner session was over full and there is a waiting list. As Program Director, it is good to know there is interest in holding this on a work friendly schedule – we will see what we can do. If interested in that or other programs, you can sign up for our monthly e-newsletter on our website, http://www.seattlechinesegarden.org.
    There are student teacher assistants who are helping in the small groups and they preferred the weekday afternoon schedule among other reasons.
    Thank you West Seattle Blog for posting the great story!

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